Islamic State group
The city of Raqqa symbolises the tragic fate of Syria over the past 12 years. From the start of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in 2011, the northern city was a major target for rebel groups. It then became the stronghold of Islamic State group terrorists, who made Raqqa the capital of their self-proclaimed caliphate. The city went through three years of hell – suffering atrocities, public hangings and slave auctions – before being bombed and then liberated in 2017 by an international US-led coalition. Since then, the "Pearl of the Euphrates" has struggled to get back on track.
The Bedouin communities living in the unforgiving Badia, or the Syrian desert, are facing a surge in armed attacks. The violence reaches a peak each year between February and April: the truffle season. As tribes go out to hunt truffles, they risk being ambushed by sleeper cells of the Islamic State group, which has taken refuge in the Badia since 2019. This exclusive investigation from FRANCE 24's Observers team exposes the horrific abuses being carried out deep in the desert.